Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

we any land : and all my ser- choice sheep; also fowls were vants were gathered thither unto prepared for me, and once in the work.

ten days store of all sorts of 17 Moreover there were at my wine : yet for all this required table an bundred and fifty of the not I the bread of the governor, Jews and rulers, beside those because the bondage was heavy that came unto us from among upon this people. the heathen that are about us. 19 Think upon me, my God,

18 Now that which was prepared for good, according to all that I for me daily was one ox and six have done for this people.

LECTURE 736.

Of doing good disinterestedly. It was within the limits of the Law that an Israelite might part with his land, sell his children unto bondage to another Israelite, and even be taken in bondage himself, for the discharge of a just debt. See Lev. 25. 25, 39. But then it was also ordered, that at certain fixt periods such bondslaves should be set free, and land so parted with should return to its proper owner. See Lev. 25. 28, 41.

Moreover it was expressly forbidden to an Israelite to take interest for money lent unto his brethren. See Ex. 22. 25.

Nehemiah therefore had just cause for indignation, when he found the rich charging the poor with interest, at the rate of “ the hundredth part of the money,” which probably means, the hundredth part each month. And whether this were the year of jubilee, as some have calculated, or whether it were the sabbatic year, or whether it were neither, there was ample ground to call on those, who had thus profited by the necessities of the poor, to restore their unrighteous gains. And how much more forcibly would this remonstrance come from one, who had set such an example of disinterested conduct as Nehemiah here states that he had done! Former governors had drawn an income from the people. And unless they had large resources of their own, they could not spend their time in the oversight of those committed to their charge, without being burdensome to them for a due maintenance. But Nehemiah, being able to live without such aid, and considering the impoverished condition of the people, was moved by “the fear of God,” and also by the hope of God's remembering him for good, to live in the state which became a governor entirely at his own expense. This reminds us of St. Paul's conduct, who tells the Corinthians, that he had kept himself from being burdensome unto them, and says, “no man shall stop me of this boasting.” 2 Cor. 11. 10. And we may consider that this is mentioned on purpose to stir up others to be liberal according to their means. Let us therefore account it our gain, when we are able to do good unto our fellow creatures, and get nothing by it here. For then we may more confidently look forward to another life, for the fulfilment of our Saviour's promise : “Give, and it shall be given unto you.” Luke 6. 38.

was

no

manner.

The wall of Jerusalem is completed. i Now it came to pass, when weakened from the work, that Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Ge- it be not done. Now therefore, shem the Arabian, and the rest O God, strengthen my hands. of our enemies, heard that I had 10 Afterward I came unto the builded the wall, and that there house of Shemaiah the son of

breach left therein; Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, (though at that time I had not who was shut up; and he said, set up the doors upon the gates;) Let us meet together in the

2 That Sanballat and Geshem house of God, within the temple, sentunto me, saying, Come, let us and let us shut the doors of the meet together in some one of the temple: for they will come to villages in the plain of Ono. But slay thee; yea, in the night will they thought to do me mischief. they come to slay thee.

3 And I sent messengers unto 11 And I said, Should such a them, saying, I am doing a great man as I flee? and who is there, work, so that I cannot come that, being as I am, would go down: why should the work into the temple to save his life? cease, whilst I leave it, and I will not go in. come down to you?

12 And, lo, I perceived that 4 Yet they sent unto me four God had not sent him; but that times after this sort; and I an- he pronounced this prophecy aswered them after the same gainst me: for Tobiah and San

ballat had hired him. 5 Then sent Sanballat his ser- 13 Therefore was he hired, that vant unto me in like manner the I should be afraid, and do so, and fifth time with an open letter in sin, and that they might have his hand;

matter for an evil report, that 6 Wherein was written, It is they might reproach me. reported among the heathen, 14 My God, think thou upon and Gashmu saith it, that thou Tobiah and Sanballat according and the Jews think to rebel: to these their works, and on the for which cause thou buildest the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest wall, that thou mayest be their of the prophets, that would have king, according to these words.

put me in fear. 7 And thou hast also appointed 15 So the wall was finished in prophets to preach of thee at Je- the twenty and fifth day of the rusalem, saying, There is a king month Elul, in fifty and two days. in Judah: and now shall it be re- 16 And it came to pass, that when ported to the king according to all our enemies heard thereof, and thesewords. Come now therefore, all the heathen that were about and let us take counsel together. us saw these things, they were

8 Then I sent unto him, saying, much cast down in their own There are no such things done eyes: for they perceived that this as thou sayest, but thou feignest work was wrought of our God, them out of thine own heart. 17 Moreover in those days the

9 For they all made us afraid, nobles of Judah sent many letters saying, Their hands shall be unto Tobiah, and the letters of

my

Tobiah came unto them. daughter of Meshullam the son

18 For there were many in Ju- of Berechiah. dah sworn unto him, because he 19 Also they reported his good was the son in law of Shecha- deeds before me, and uttered niah the son of Arah : and his my words to him. And Tobiah son Johanan had taken the sent letters to put me in fear.

LECTURE 737. The importance of the work we have to do. This is a remarkable saying, the answer which Nehemiah sent to his enemies, when they sought to decoy him into a place of danger: “ I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.” And it is a conviction which we shall do well to impress deeply upon ourselves, that whatsoever be our station in life, and whatsoever our appropriate employment, it is a great work that we have to do ; for this reason, applicable to every one of us, that it is the work to which God has called us. To be not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, as serving the Lord, is the duty of every Christian. See Rom. 12. 11. To do all the daily work of every day on a principle like this, and under this conviction; and frequently whilst we do it to be lifting up our hearts in prayer to God and saying, “ Now therefore, O God, strengthen hands." This will give a firmness to our character, and a dignity to our employments; this will give us courage in the midst of danger, and in the midst of difficulty success.

To those who would decoy us from this straightforward path of duty and of safety, we shall readily make answer, “why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you ?” Though they repeat their solicitations, we shall still answer them after the same manner. If they try to hinder us by inventing false reports, and threatening us with cruel slander, we shall be enabled to say calmly, “ There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.” Nay even if our life be threatened unless we will swerve from fulfilling God's work, we can still say with Nehemiah, “Should such a man as I flee?” Thus we could answer, in each case, if all along we are under the conviction of Nehemiah, I am doing a great work. I have a soul to be saved. I have my salvation to work out with fear and trembling. I have God to please. I have Christ to glorify. I have to see to it that in no one instance I resist the Holy Ghost, but rather uniformly act upon his godly motions. I have Satan to watch against, to fight with, to overcome. I have hell to escape. I have heaven to reach forward to. Such are the walls of the city which we are engaged in building. And such is the spirit in which we are most warranted to look for success in building them. May we all have grace to form this high estimate of the work we have to do for God in this life! And whilst we stedfastly thus make answer unto those who would obstruct us in the way of God's commandments, may He enable us in his good time to finish the work which He has given us to do, and to enter into rest eternal ! The register of the people. i Now it came to pass, when thousand, an hundred seventy the wall was built, and I had and two. set up the doors, and the por- 9 The children of Shephatiah, ters and the singers and the three hundred seventy and two. Levites were appointed,

10 The children of Arah, six 2 That I gave my brother Ha- hundred fifty and two. nani, and Hananiah the ruler of 11 The children of Pahaththe palace, charge over Jerusa- moab, of the children of Jeshua lem : for he was a faithful man, and Joab, two thousand and and feared God above many. eight hundred and eighteen.

3 And I said unto them, Let 12 The children of Elam, a thounot the gates of Jerusalem be sand two hundred fifty and four. opened until the sun be hot; and 13 The children of Zattu, eight while they stand by, let them hundred forty and five. shut the doors, and bar them : 14 The children of Zaccai, seand appoint watches of the in- ven hundred and threescore. habitants of Jerusalem, every .15 The children of Binnui, six one in his watch, and every one hundred forty and eight. to be over against his house. 16 The children of Bebai, six

4 Now the city was large and hundred twenty and eight. great: but the people were few 17 The children of Azgad, two therein, and the houses were not thousand three hundred twenty builded.

and two. 5 And my God put into mine 18 The children of Adonikam,six heart to gather together the no- hundred threescore and seven. bles, and the rulers, and the peo- 19 The children of Bigvai, two ple, that they might be reckoned thousand threescore and seven. by genealogy. And I found a 20 The children of Adin, six register of the genealogy of them hundred fifty and five. which came up at the first, and 21 The children of Ater of found written therein,

Hezekiah, ninety and eight. 6 These are the children of 22 The children of Hashum, the province, that went up out three hundred twenty and eight. of the captivity, of those that 23 The children of Bezai, three had been carried away, whom hundred twenty and four. Nebuchadnezzar the king of 24 The children of Hariph, an Babylon had carried away, and hundred and twelve. came again to Jerusalem and to 25 The children of Gibeon, Judah, every one unto his city; ninety and five.

7 Who came with Zerubbabel, 26 The men of Beth-lehem and Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Netophah, an hundred fourscore Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, and eight. Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Ne- 27 The men of Anathoth, an hum, Baanah. The number, I hundred twenty and eight. say, of the men of the people of 28 The men of Beth-azmaveth, Israel was this ;

forty and two. 8 The children of Parosh, two 29 The men of Kirjath-jearim,

one.

Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven Elam, a thousand two hundred hundred forty and three. fifty and four.

30 The men of Ramah and 35 The children of Harim, Gaba, six hundred twenty and three hundred and twenty.

36 The children of Jericho, 31 The men of Michmas, an three hundred forty and five. hundred and twenty and two. 37 The children of Lod, Ha

32 The men of Beth-el and Ai, did, and Ono, seven hundred an hundred twenty and three. twenty and one.

33 The men of the other Nebo, 38 I'he children of Senaah, fifty and two.

three thousand nine hundred 34 The children of the other and thirty.

LECTURE 738.

Of doing what God appoints. It is not improbable that Nehemiah was absent on a visit to the king of Persia, during the time that his brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, had the charge over Jerusalem. And it is observable, that the person whom he joined with his own brother was one who was a faithful man, and feared God above many.” This was consistent in one who himself so greatly feared God, to select a godly man for a place of trust and honour. And this will be consistent in us, if we fear God, and love Him, and serve Him, never to promote another to any office, as far as we can help it, except he be one who fears God, and loves Him, and serves Him, above all out of whom we have to choose.

Though the walls of the city were now built, and the gates set up, it was but thinly inhabited. And Nehemiah remarks this with concern; as knowing that the strength of a state consists not in the height or solidity of its walls, but in the numbers and character of its people. And he was led to think of gathering together “ the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy:" “My God put into my heart,” he says, still referring devoutly every good thought to Him who was indeed the Author of it. This we may suppose occurred before Nehemiah's absence in Persia. And having found the register of those who came up at first out of captivity, he probably compared the list with the families then settled in the land, in order to see how many had since come up, and how many had returned, and in order to provide for bringing back with him some members of such families as might still be missing. But whatever was his object in this new reckoning of the people, we are sure that it was a good work to do it, since it was God who put it into his heart. Things which otherwise seem trifling cease to be so when they are plainly of God's appointment. And when God's word and Spirit unite to testify with our own conscience, that God has put any matter into our hearts, then whatever others may think of its importance, it must be with us the first of all things to be done.

« AnteriorContinuar »